Today is June 2, 2020 and this is part 1 of our post on comparing two exceptional metropolitan areas – Austin–Round Rock (or Greater Austin) and San Francisco–Oakland–Berkeley. We will focus on one city within each metro areas and compare working on relatively similar positions in a technology company. Part 1 will focus on setting the stage for this comparison and part 2 will discuss the decision factors and suggestions on picking one over the other. 

At this point in June, we appear closer to end of the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic. Governments and businesses across the world are equally eager to get the economy back on track, people want to go back to work in a safe environment and almost everyone want things to go back to how they were before the pandemic. Across the globe cities, states and nations have had varying policy response to this pandemic. When these policies have been substantially different across regions within the same country, it has roiled some influential individuals and communities to talk openly about an issue that we have been trying to address in the past few months. This blog post is an attempt to add insights from regional data we have collected in the past few months on occupations, salaries, taxes, and expenses. 

A set of two regions where COVID-19 related policies have been very different are Texas and California. Due to these differences Joe Rogan wants to move to Texas; Elon Musk wants to take his Tesla factory to Texas and a lot of individuals are clamoring online to discuss the pros and cons of moving specifically from California to Texas. Why is everyone so interested in Texas and disinterested in California suddenly? We will try and answer that question using our databases and tools. 

A quick pitch for our services — We are building databases and tools for individuals to track and compare jobs across locations when a complete picture of taxes, expenses and living standard is presented along with regional wage growth by occupations. We want to ensure that every job opportunity gets in front of individuals who are most qualified for it and to give those individuals tools to compare their current position with the new opportunity considering not just the base salary, but also future growth, taxes, expenses, and standard of living. With that in mind, let us get back to Texas vs California and specifically Austin vs San Francisco Bay area. 

We want to ensure that every job opportunity gets in front of individuals who are most qualified for it and to give those individuals tools to compare their current position with the new opportunity considering not just the base salary, but also future growth, taxes, expenses, and standard of living.

For this post, we plan on comparing living and working in these areas by finding similar jobs (maybe even in the same company) at both these locations and estimate starting base wages from our database. We will then extract and apply regional wage growth rates, deduct taxes and expenses for 8-year timeframe to calculate net savings at the end of that period. 

In May 2019, software developer was the second largest occupation in San Francisco, CA and fifth largest is Austin, TX per the Bureau of Labor Statistics as shown in figure below. A quick search on a popular job search portal for a mid-level position as a software developer showed these comparable job postings for a JAVA developer:

Posting @ Austin, TX – As a Mid-Level Java Developer in ABC company, you will help design, develop, and improve our product. This includes contributing to the planning and design of features, collaborating with a great team of technology enthusiasts, and working with technical leadership to define our practices and processes.

Posting @ San Francisco, CA – XYZ company is looking for an experienced Java Engineer to join our Connect Core Services team. You will be joining a team of smart engineers that have been a part of the pioneering work in the Home Automation and IoT space. This position plays an important part in the cutting-edge technology of home automation and IoT space.

Salary ranges were not provided and the benefits like vacations, retirement plans were very similar. In part 2 of this post, we will introduce and discuss major decision points and evaluate the differences between Austin, TX and Redwood City, CA (in San Francisco Bay area) for each of those. 

The goal was to compare living and working in Texas vs California in the age of remote work.

Part 1 focuses on setting the stage why this comparison is most relevant now and what is our approach for tackling this comparison. We decided to select similar jobs across these geographies and described them here. Part 2 will focus on decision factors and results of this comparative analysis. Tools for similar analysis are available at our WebApp.